's battalion at Morgan
's quarters, and ad-
dressed them with spirit; after which a council of war agreed on a night attack on the lower town.
For the following days the troops kept themselves in readiness at a moment's warning.
In the interval the intention was revealed by a deserter to the garrison, so that every preparation was made against a surprise; two thirds of the men lay on their arms; in the upper town, Carleton
and others not on duty slept in their clothes; in the lower, volunteer pickets kept watch; and they all wished ardently that the adventurous attempt might not be delayed.
The night of the twenty sixth was clear, and so cold that no man could handle his arms or scale a wall.
The evening of the twenty seventh was hazy, and the troops were put in motion; but as the sky soon cleared up, the general, who was tender of their lives, called them back, choosing to wait for the shelter of a favorable night, that is, for a night of clouds and darkness with a storm of wind and snow.
For the next days the air was serene, and a mild westerly wind brightened the sky. On the thirtieth a snow storm from the northeast set in. But a few hours more of the old year remained, and with it the engagement of many of his troops would expire; Montgomery
must act now, or resign the hope of crowning his career by the capture of Quebec
Orders were therefore given for the troops to be ready at two o'clock of the following morning; and that they might recognise one another, each soldier wore in his cap a piece of white paper, on which some of them wrote: ‘liberty or death.’
It was Montgomery
's plan to alarm the garrison